White, Mary

First name: 
Year of birth: 
Monmouthshire, Wales
Country of birth: 
Great Brittain
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Mary White (born Rollinson) is born in Croesyceiliog, Monmouthshire, Wales in 1926. She studies design at Hammersmith College of Art, London between 1946 and 1948. In 1949 she studies at Newport College of Art. In 1950 she takes Art Teachers Diploma at Goldsmiths' College of Art, London. In 1951 she married painter Charles White (d.1997). Between 1950 and 1962 she teaches in schools and art schools. As a ceramic artist and calligrapher she was made a fellow of the Society of Scribes & Illuminators (SSI) in 1962 and later the Letter Exchange. Between 1962 and 1973 she and her husband live in Canada. In 1973 the couple return to UK and she sets up a workshop in Wales. In 1975 she was invited to take part in an international symposium in Cardiff, Wales and had the opportunity to experiment with porcelain. She developed wide-flanged bowls, extending the thin rims to breaking point. She also found the possibilities of using colours in glazes instead of more usual warm browns that she had been using for tableware. This marked a great change in her work. Turquoise became her favourite colour, at first pure, and then with subtle variations. She began to make more individual pieces. Between 1975 and 1980 she opened a new workshop in Malmesbury, Wilts. In 1980 she and het husband leave for Rheinpfalz, Germany. In 1982 she was awarded the Staatspreis Rheinland-Pfalz for outstanding craftwork. Before the move to Germany, Mary White had occasionally exhibited calligraphy with the SSI and had used letters on bowls, mainly painted in lustres. In Germany she could not find the market for these and at that time had no contact with German calligraphers so for many years she concentrated on ceramics. In the early 1980s Mary White began to make organic forms in porcelain, partly hand built. She used the clay as thin as possible, almost like torn paper and assembled it in layers. Ideas come from the layers of rock on the seashore, shells and waves rippling over the sand and colours in the sea and sky. She prefers to make shapes that are oval rather than round. In 1990 she became involved with calligraphy again and attended an International symposium in Belgium. Under the influence of a master calligrapher, Villu Toots from Estonia, she regained her enthusiasm for calligraphy and now experiments with combining the two artforms. Her work is collected internationally and appears in museum collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (text from Wikipedia and Watson).

See the artist on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omG5oM4VXpo

Pictures: Portrait Mary White (Source Galerie-Handwerk.de); drie objecten (particuliere collectie).

  • Watson, Oliver, Studio Pottery, 1990.
  • NN. 'Mary White' in: Neue Keramik 1990/91, nr. 1.
  • White, Mary, Lettering on Ceramics, 2003.